jamie goode's wine blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A lovely Kiwi Riesling from Neudorf

New Zealand is, of course, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, becoming famous for its Pinot Noir, and beginning to make a name for its Syrahs. But what of its Rieslings? I think they're a bit underrated. They are also quite hard to sell.

But I've tried some great examples of late, in both the dry style, the just-off-dry style, and the lower alcohol semi-sweet Germanic style. Here's a really good one in the second category.

Neudorf Riesling Brightwater 2007 Nelson, New Zealand
Hand-picked grapes, whole bunch pressed, 11% alcohol and 10 g/litre residual sugar. This is a really precise, quite complex Riesling with pure lemon and grapefruit freshness, good acidity, and some of that ethereal quality known as minerality. The high acid is nicely offset with just a hint of sweetness, and there's no heaviness here at all. This is a really beautiful expression of Riesling with precision and transparency. 91/100 (£15.10 Berry Bros & Rudd)

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Grunhuas Abs Kab 02: a beautiful Riesling

Just the sort of Riesling I'm always in the mood from, from one of my favourite German producers. Great label, too. Glad I bought two bottles of this, and wish I'd bought a few more.

Maximin Grünhäus Abstberg Riesling Kabinett 2002 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
7.5% alcohol. Very fresh, precise and taut with lovely spicy grapefruit notes as well as lemon and melon fruitiness. Beautiful balance and freshness to this nicely concentrated Kabinett that displays some complexity and brilliant focus. Just lovely: the style of Riesling I can drink all the time. 93/100 (£13 Lay & Wheeler)

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Loosen Erdener Treppchen Kabinett 2008

I like 2008 as a vintage in the Mosel. It's not regarded as a great vintage, but what I appreciatee about it is the fact that the Kabinetts actually taste like Kabinetts: they are fresh, lean and precise with good acidity and without too much richness. Here's a nice one that I'm enjoying at the moment, from Loosen but bottled under Marks & Spencer's own label.

M&S Ernst Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling 2008 Mosel, Germany
Really fresh, with lovely grapefruit, melon, apple and pear notes. There's a bit of richness, but the sweetness is really well countered by the acidity. A really delicious fruity style with some minerally seriousness to it. 90/100 (£11.99 M&S here)

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Costero Riesling: an affordable gem from Chile

A few days ago I blogged on the brilliant Costero Syrah, from Vina Leyda. Well, here's the Riesling. Watch out Australia: this is a very impressive dry Riesling at an affordable price. It would be great to sneak this into a line-up of the best Aussie Rieslings, because I think it would do quite well.

Costero Riesling 2008 Leyda Valley, Chile
Very pure with notes of lime, grapefruit and mandarin. Tight palate with freshness and an almost salty minerality. A bright expression of Riesling with some subtle herby notes. Delicious. 88/100 (£6.95 Majestic if you buy more than one Chilean wine)

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World-class Riesling from Luxembourg

Really enjoying this world-class dry Riesling from Luxembourg. It's just perfectly balanced.

Mathis Bastian Riesling Fut 40 2004 Moselle, Luxembourg
12.5% alcohol. Incredible stuff, just beautifully poised and showing real balance. It's dry with a minerally, spicy complexity to the generous lemon and lime fruit. Pure and precise, with good acidity and nice concentration. This is sort of Alsace in style with a hint of the Mosel to it, too. Lovely and fine. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brief Napa reports: Trefethen

My second full day in Napa began at Trefethen, in the Oak Knoll district. It was another beautiful morning, and I was meeting with Jon Ruel – like me, another lapsed scientist (he'd done research on plant ecology in a previous life). John was a great host.

Trefethen is a large family-owned property of 440 acres of vineyard, planted on the valley floor. There's also a 40 acre property not far from the estate in the hills, called Hillspring. While the valley floor estate looks like one big vineyard, there are some quite significant differences in the soils. The more gravelly bits from alluvial fans are better suited to Cabernet, while Chardonnay prefers the more fertile sections with deeper clay loam soils. There's also a fair bit of Riesling here (some was still on the vine with botrytis, for making a sweet wine), as well as some Pinot Noir that is sold to sparkling producers.

The Hillspring property, tucked into the hills, has more rocky, less fertile soils and is also warmer by a few degrees. It's really beautiful.

Sustainability is a big issue for John, and he's working hard to make the vineyards as naturally farmed as possible. As well as a large compost heap, there's a large array of 572 solar panels supplying 20% of the winery's needs.

The wines? They're solidly good. The Riesling is attractive, fresh and lime, and the Chardonnay is restrained and appealing, with a light touch of oak. The Merlot is well defined and supple, while the Cabernet is a bit richer, but still made in a bright, digestible and fruit-focused style. There's no hint of over-ripeness or excess here, and the wines are better for it. The 2005 Reserve is largely from the Hillspring property and shows lovely rich aromatics with a concentrated, ripe forward palate. It's a big wine, but it shows restraint with it.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some serious Riesling

I know how incredibly boring it must be to keep hearing the same message repeated here ad nauseum: Riesling, when it is done well, rocks. And Germany just seems to do it so well.

I love it, as do most wine trade people. It seems that the average consumer remains to be convinced, though. But this is a serious Riesling, made in a dry style, and it's fantastic.

Reichsrat von Buhl Kirchenstück Forst Riesling Trocken Grosses Gewachs 2008 Pfalz, Germany
Amazing aromatic, spicy, limey nose leads to a vibrant, precise, minerally, limey, grapefruity palate with great concentration and a spicy freshness. There’s a melony, honeyed richness in the margins but the dominant theme is the steely minerality and high acidity. A taut, enthralling Riesling with real precision. 93/100 (UK agent www.worldwineagencies.com)

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cheese, a great NZ Riesling and a great restuarant

I'm currently sitting at my desk, eating a simple tea of bread rolls and Comte cheese, drinking an understated, rather elegant New Zealand Pinot Noir (Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand).

Cheese and bread is understated as a meal. But you get all you could want from it: deliciousness, calories (cheese is amazingly calorific), protein, carbohydrates and wine compatibility. I really love decent Comte, and even middling Comte will work when the good stuff isn't available. [I'm also going through a bit of a Gruyere phase. It's similar in texture and not too far apart in flavour.]

The Pinot Noir works OK with the cheese, but perhaps a complex, nutty Chardonnay would be better. Or maybe an off-dry Alsace Pinot Gris.

The reason I'm eating late is because I've been playing football. Scored another glory goal today. I won't talk you through it.

Had a lovely lunch with Fiona today at a restaurant that exceeded expectations by some distance. We trecked out to The Royal Oak in Paley Street, near Maidenhead. It's a high-end gastropub, but the food was Michelin star standard. We'll be going back. The sommelier is fantastic, and has put together a really interesting list, drawing on a range of suppliers. It's so refreshing to come to a wine list where the wines are all real wines (not on-trade-only 'made-up' lines), and where there is a diverse selection, even in the wine by the glass range.

We chose the Framingham Classic Riesling 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand. This is a brilliant wine from New Zealand's top Riesling producer, and it's by some distance the best NZ Riesling I've tried of late. It's dry, but with great acidity and some sweetness in the mid-palate.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Organic German Riesling

You don't find all that many organic wines in Germany. It's surprising. I suppose in the Mosel it's hard to be organic, when you have small plots of vines in many vineyards, some of which are so steep that they have to be sprayed by helicopter. Anyway, here's an organic Riesling from the Rheingau that I quite liked.

Peter Jakob Kuhn Riesling Trocken QbA 2007 Rheingau
11% alcohol. Yellow colour. Savoury, minerally, limey nose with a hint of honeysuckle and apple. The palate is bone dry and mineralic with complex savoury, citrussy fruit and good acidity. Full flavoured with good food compatibility. 88/100 (£11.99 The Winery)

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Friday, July 24, 2009

A rich Mosel kabinett

Here's a rich-styled Mosel Riesling kabinett. I guess it's not as crisp and bright as I really like them, but it's still a really good effort. Sealed with a Vino-Lok (glass) closure, this is a good food wine.

Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 2007 Mosel, Germany
Pale yellow colour. Focused sweet melony fruit dominates with a citrus pith and white peach edge, as well as good acidity. There's a hint of spiciness, and it is quite broad textured. Off-dry but with a savoury dimension, possessing more weight of flavour than some kabinetts. Good concentration and depth. 10% alcohol. 90/100 (UK agent Enotria)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Alsace Riesling: Josmeyer

Following on from last week's Trimbach encounter, here's a bottle I picked up at Haynes, Hanson & Clark for £11.50. Not the best ever, but a really good example of dry, fruity Alsace Riesling.

Josmeyer Riesling 'Le Kottabe' 2007 Alsace
12.5% alcohol, certified Biodynamic (Biodyvin). A really attractive dry Riesling with a lovely fruity character. Spicy minerality underpins the lemony fruit, with a subtle herbiness in the background, as well as some honeyed notes. Satisfying and balanced. 89/100 (£11.50 Haynes, Hanson & Clark)

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Clare Valley: two good-uns from Mitchell

A few years back Andrew and Jane Mitchell kindly let me stay for a couple of nights at their home, when I visited the Clare Valley (see report here). I missed Andrew on a recent trip he made to the UK, but he left a couple of wines for me to try. These are pretty impressive: a pair of high-end, late-release wines under the McNicol label.

Mitchell McNicol Riesling 2005 Clare Valley
Intense, limey nose with some richer honey and tropical fruit notes. It's quite mineralic, too. The palate is bold and rich with limey, spicy intensity, good concentration, and a lovely minerality. Dry but rich, with wonderful depth of flavour. Clare Valley at its best. 92/100

Mitchell McNicol Shiraz 2001 Clare Valley
Evolving really nicely with a focused nose of sweet blackberry fruit, with some rich tarry notes and a mineral dimension. The palate shows nice balance between the sweet dark fruit and the almost salty, spicy structure. Good concentration with good supporting oak. 91/100 (£15.50 Haynes, Hanson & Clark)

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Stunning Aussie Riesling

I'm on the Riesling trail at the moment. Here's a brilliant Australian Riesling from the Clare Valley that's utterly delicious, with a nice elegance coupled with limey intensity.

Skillogalee Trevarrick Riesling 2008 Clare Valley
11% alcohol, sealed with a Vino Lok. 250 cases made. Amazing stuff: bracing, limey, minerally and quite fine, with lovely elegance to the intense fruit. There’s a floral edge to the aromatics, as well as a pithy, citrussy depth. It’s one of the very best dry Australian Rieslings I’ve had, with lovely precision, purity and elegance. 93/100 (UK agent: Enotria)

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Must drink more Alsace: Trimbach Riesling

A coincidence. This afternoon, before driving down to Devon to drop older son off at school, I put a bottle of Alsace wine in the fridge. Then, on the way back home, I heard Jancis talking on BBC Radio 4's Last word about the late Jean Hugel. A sign: I must explore Alsace wines further, because they are brilliant, even if I keep forgetting about them. I must also visit Alsace as soon as possible because I have never been there (embarassing admission).

Where to start? Trimbach and Hugel are certainly good producers (Trimbach's CFE and Clos Ste Hune are two of Alsace's very best Rieslings, in a dry style). Zind Humbrecht and Marcel Deiss are probably the two top producers, with Kreydenweiss and Albert Mann hot on their tails.

Anyway, this entry level Trimbach Riesling is pretty solid. It's brought into the UK by Enotria.

Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2006 Alsace, France
12.5% alcohol. A really delicious dry Riesling from Alsace, with exuberant lemony fruit, showing a hint of apricot richness, but otherwise it’s really dry and citrussy. Lovely purity and freshness here – it reminds me a bit of a top Australian Riesling in style. 89/100

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Riesling is hard to get, I reckon

I'm drinking Riesling tonight, sitting outside just after the light has finally faded and the temperature has dipped into the late teens.

It has taken me a long time to 'get' Riesling, to the point where I actually really enjoy it, rather than just appreciate it. I've joked here before that Riesling is the one variety that, once you are in the wine trade, you have to like. Outside the trade, seemingly, no one buys it, no one drinks it. But as a writer, I must plug it because that's in my contract.

This year, though, I've passed the appreciation phase and entered the enjoyment phase. I've been buying Riesling, and drinking it through choice. Especially Mosel Kabinetts, which, with their beautiful tension between sweetness and acidity, tantalize the taste buds and leave you wanting more. But I'm also quite taken by the new generation of Trocken Rieslings from Germany, when they are made with ripe enough grapes.

Austria and Alsace are also great destinations for Riesling. Both seem to be able to do dry Riesling really well, without it being austere or awkward.

Australia is famous for its dry Rieslings, with both the Clare and Eden Valleys excelling. They're cheap, too, and can age well. I appreciate them (although sometimes they can be a bit austere and samey), but I'm also excited to see new styles emerging, including those where some residual sugar is left in to provide balance.

Tonight's wine, however, comes from New Zealand, and the Marlborough region. It's Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2007, and for the technically minded this has a pH of 3 and TA of 8 g/litre, weighing in at 12% alcohol. It's super fresh, with explosive flavours of lime and grapefruit, finishing with high acidity and a nice dollop of sweetness that serves to balance out the acidity without making the wine seem anything other than dry, fresh and minerally. There's nice delicacy here, even though there's also a lot of flavour, and a hint of grippiness about the palate. I really like it. In the UK it is available from Bibendum (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/) and will be one of the wines in their forthcoming summer sale, when you'll be able to pick it up for a song. For me, this is an 89 point wine.

New Zealand is promising for Riesling. Here's a really informative post from Framingham winemaker Andrew Headley, published on the Caves de Pyrene Grapevine.

Is Riesling an accessible variety to you? Is it something you got pretty much straight away? Or, like me, did you have to warm to its charms over several years of relatively heavy drinking?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Not more Riesling, surely?

OK, last Riesling for a while. Had a glass with lunch and now a glass to finish the otherwise wine-less evening.

It's Dr Loosen Blue Slate Riesling 2006 Mosel. 8% alcohol. It's a slight step up from the Dr L Riesling (which is bought-in fruit) - a qualitatswein made from estate fruit, which retails at just over £8 in the UK, and is available from Bibendum and Somerfield.

This is better than the already very good Dr L, and shows tight, minerally, spicy grapefruit and lemon character, with a hint of sweetness. I love the freshness and transparency. It's very easy to drink, but there's a precision here that would make it a good food wine. Brilliant value for money and probably the perfect introduction to Mosel Riesling for those who don't really drink it much.

I know everyone gets really excited about Auslese and above, but there's something to be said for decent Kabinett-styled wines like this, with their freshness and acidity - there are just so many more occasions where you can drink them. And they're much better value.

Just a couple of days left until I'm off to Australia for the Landmark Australia Tutorial.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Need another Riesling fix

I'm going big on Rieslings at the moment. Rather boringly and predictably, my trip to Germany has switched me on to the magic of Riesling such that I'm actually finding myself enjoying it and not just admiring it and feeling like I ought to enjoy it more.

Three tonight.

Kees-Kieren Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel, Germany
9.5% alcohol. Deep yellow in colour, this is much richer than you'd expect from a Kabinett - it's almost like an Auslese, never mind a Spatlese. Rich, sweet melon and peach fruit on the nose, which leads to a richly-textured sweet melon and apricot palate with a hint of spice. Bold, rich and ripe, this is deliciously plump, but well balanced. 91/100

Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel, Germany
9% alcohol. Full yellow colour. There's lovely balance here between the ripe, plump, melony fruit and the more mineralic, spicy citrus notes. It's quite zippy and fresh, but rich and ripe at the same time. I like the balance this wine shows. A rich style of Kabinett, perhaps reflecting the vintage. 90/100

Leitz Rudesheimer Burgweg Riesling Kabinett 2006 Rheingau, Germany
9.5% alcohol. Yellow colour. There's a distinctive struck match reductive note here on the nose, as well as a hint of cabbage. It's not unpleasant, but it does take away from the purity of the wine. The palate is crisp, bright and focused, but I don't think reduction works very well in the context of a delicate wine like this. You have to be careful when you use tin-lined screwcaps. 82/100 (£8.99 Tesco)

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Friday, May 22, 2009

The wonderful Germany trip: a quick summary

I'm still very excited about this week's visit to some of the leading German producers, even though today was mostly consumed with driving down to Devon and back (on a Friday before a bank holiday) to pick up older son from school.

It was my first visit to German vineyards, and however much you read, however much you taste the wines, it only really makes total sense for me when I actually visit the patch of land the wines come from. I guess this is why I try hard to integrate pictures and videos in with my content here at wineanorak.com - I want to give you a feel for where the wines I'm talking about come from.

For this trip, organized by ABS Wine Agencies, I was with a group of buyers and merchants - not fellow journalists. It was a great bunch of people, and we had some fun. We began by visiting Johannes Leitz in the Rheingau, and appropriately enough for a gorgeous summer's day, he took us to the vineyards around Rudesheim (below is the Schlossberg vineyard). Some of the slopes were amazingly steep, with the rows planted up and down the hill. This is quite a contrast to the Douro (another steep vineyard area which I'm very familiar with) where the vineyards are terraced when they reach a certain gradient. We went back to Leitz and tasted through a large range of wines, with a bit of lunch, too. The Leitz wines at the top end really shone, and I was quite taken by the Trockens (the drier-styled wines) from 2008.

Next stop was the Nahe, and Helmut Donnhoff (pictured top). He's one of Germany's most celebrated producers, and the wines he showed us in an extensive tasting were absolutely brilliant. We then visited two of his vineyards: the beautiful Niederhauser Hermannshole, and the spectacular Felsenberg. We tasted a couple more wines at the top of the Felsenberg as the sun set, and then headed off for dinner with Helmut and his wife.

The following morning we had a double appointment at Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen. First, Fritz and Agnes Hasselbach showed us their fantastic Gunderloch wines, and then Paul Furst came over to show us his remarkable Franconian whites and Pinot Noirs. We followed this with lunch, before heading out to view the vineyards stretching between Nachenheim and Nierstein.
Then it was off to the Mosel, for an extended visit with Ernst Loosen. We drove along the Mosel, stopping off at the Erdener Pralat vineyard, before making our way to the spectacular Urziger Wurzgarten vineyard (above) with its terrifyingly steep slopes. We also had a look at the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, before dining very well at Ernie's place. Dinner involved an extensive blind tasting of some amazing wines, including 88 Lynch Bages, a 1976 Meursault from Leroy and some old Riesling. Dinner finished at around 2 am, at which point five of us walked back to our hotel for some much needed kip, while the three who were being given a lift back to the guesthouse with Ernie somehow ended up in the bars of Bernkastel, drinking all sorts of strange things, and not getting back into bed until 04 30 h.

They paid for this the next day: they looked rather peaky when they finally showed up, an hour and a half late, for the following morning's tasting of the Loosen wines. 2008 is looking like a really good vintage for quality growers, with the extra acidity bringing brilliant freshness when there's the fruit to go with it. It's a Spatlese/Kabinett vintage, which I like.

The Bernkastel three looked even peakier on the journey to the Pfalz that followed. They were broken men. Ernie, however, was his usual self!

Our final appointment was at JL Wolf, the Loosen outfit in the Pfalz. These wines, while being very tasty, weren't in quite the same league as the others tasted on this trip. But then they are more affordable. Full write-up of all to follow.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

A decent Riesling from JJ Christoffel

Much of the time I'm reporting here on samples. But I do still buy wine, although not as much as I'd like, or I should. This is one I paid for.

I'm drinking it at the end of a long day in the office - the first in a couple of weeks - during which I've been sorting out my diary and beginning to tackle the back-log of things that need writing up. I punctuated the day with a lengthy walk, all the way round Virginia Water lake, with RTL. It was wet and grey, but still enjoyable. Tomorrow I'm off to Manchester, technically my home town, for the day for the 50 Great Portuguese Wines tasting.

This is a Riesling Kabinett from JJ Christoffel, which I purchased as part of a mixed case a couple of years ago. I really like Mosel Kabinett. One of the best things about it is that the wines usually have an extended drinking window.

JJ Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel, Germany
A rich, weighty, off-dry Riesling with honeyed, melony fruit and some spicy minerality. It's beautifully textured and balanced, with more density and richness than you might expect from a typical Mosel Kabinett. There's some bright liminess, here, too. It's a style of Riesling that can't really be done convincingly anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of some bits of New Zealand. It would get a higher rating were it not for the slighly sugary, syrupy note on the finish. But that's nit-picking - it's a really nice wine. 88/100

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Late night wine VLOG: four German Rieslings

The latest of the late night wine VLOGs: I taste four German Rieslings, despite the best efforts of RTL.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Riesling QBA from 2007 that just sings...

As I've said before on this blog, if you are in the wine trade you have no choice about which your favourite white grape is. It *just* has to be Riesling. Well, with wines like this, it's not difficult. It's beautifully balanced and delicious. The only problem? It should really be a pound or two cheaper, I think.

Reichsrat von Buhl Riesling QBA 2007 Pfalz, Germany
Delightfully fresh, light, bright and aromatic, with lovely lemon and grapefruit zippiness. There's a hint of sweetness on the palate, but overall it is dry and minerally; mouthwatering and precise. Brilliant stuff. Sealed with a Diam closure, and 11% alcohol. 89/100 (£10.39 Laithwaites)

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

A delightful Riesling Kabinett Trocken

On the way back from Graz through Frankfurt airport (busy, horrible, much prefer Munich where I changed on the way out) I looked at the wine selection. Just one bottle caught my eye, amid a sea of big brands and rather obvious international wines - this deliciously crisp and focused Riesling from Schloss Vollrads. Sealed with a Vino-Lok, it's a trocken (dry) style which is very popular in Germany, but isn't seen all that often in the UK.

Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2007 Rheingau, Germany
Minerally, lemony nose is focused and precise. The palate is crisp, limey and acidic with lots of minerality. A pure, zippy sort of Riesling with beautiful focus. Highly food compatible and bone dry. 12% alcohol. 89/100 (9 Euros)

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The death of Kabinett...almost

Germany’s Mosel region, which produced some of the world’s best Riesling, uses a classification known as the Prädikat system, which is a hierarchical system with six different levels based on the ripeness of the grapes. When this was introduced, in 1971, the problem was getting the Riesling grapes ripe, and only the best fruit from the best sites got into the Spätlese and Auslese wines (the levels above this, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, relied on the concentrating effect of botrytis). But now, the effects of global warming mean that sugar levels are rising in the grapes, and the lowest end of the classification, Kabinett, is in danger of extinction. This is because the great vineyard sites are turning out grapes that have higher sugar levels than those you’d normally associate with Kabinett.

Is this a problem? Yes, if like me, you love Kabinett Rieslings. They’re fantastically fresh, with lovely tension between the high acidity and the sweetness. They are bright enough to go really well with food, as well as being good for casual sipping. Nowhere else in the world can make Riesling in such a focused yet light style. And because they are at the bottom end of this hierarchical system, they are also affordable.

These days, many of the Rieslings labeled ‘Kabinett’ are actually far sweeter and richer than the traditional Kabinett style. It’s perfectly legal to pick Riesling grapes at Spätlese levels of sweetness and then declassify these to Kabinett, but what’s the point of doing this? It invalidates the Prädikat system. Today’s wine is a Riesling Kabinett that tastes like Kabinett, from Dr Loosen, whose US office recently sent out a press release highlighting the problem that Kabinett faces. Loosen’s response has been to release a new Kabinett without a vineyard designation, based on less exalted vineyard sites where the grapes don’t get quite so ripe. “Kabinett is the lightest, most delicate style we produce,” says Loosen, “but in recent vintages our grand cru sites have become too warm. So we’ve gone to cooler sites to find the fruit we need to keep the true Kabinett style alive.” But he has shown with his regular Kabinetts that he is keen that a wine labelled as a Kabinett should actually taste like one, which is a good thing.

Dr Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2007 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
A delightfully bright example of Kabinett, with a lovely aromatic, fresh lemony, flowery, honeyed nose. The palate has a brilliant balance between the sweet tropical fruit and the high grapefruity acidity, with some spicy complexity and lovely precision. Fruity, fresh and low in alcohol (7.5%), this is the perfect lunchtime wine, but it’s also great for casual sipping, and would work well with light seafood dishes. Just off-dry, but still very fresh. 90/100 (£11.99 Waitrose, Booths)

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Monday, April 21, 2008

A Kabinett/Spatlese from Kiwi land

Really impressed with this off-dry, delicate Riesling from New Zealand.

Waipara Springs Riesling 2006 Waipara, New Zealand
Weighing in at 10.5% alcohol and with 29 g/litre residual sugar, this Riesling is just gorgeous. Very fresh nose with some carbon dioxide spritz. The palate is off-dry and nicely delicate with good acidity, nice fruit and good balance. It's a Kabinett or perhaps even a Spatlese style that really works well. Interestingly, a quarter of the blend saw some partial ageing in old oak barrels to add a bit of complexity. I reckon you could stick this away for a few years and it would develop beautifully. 92/100 (http://www.hellionwines.com/, although this is a new wine not listed on their site yet)

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Two great Aussie Rieslings

Two very impressive Australian Rieslings tasted together. I don't drink a lot of Aussie Riesling, and sometimes I admire it more than I enjoy it, but these two worked for me. The Howard Park is fresher, more delicate and a little more focused; the Petaluma has more richness, power and weight. Both are exceptionally good.

Howard Park Riesling 2007 Great Southern, Western Australia
I reckon this is one of Australia’s very best Rieslings. It has a beautifully expressive, elegant limey nose, with a bit of floral perfume. The palate is bone dry but not at all phenolic or rough, with concentrated, delicate (but not fragile) citrussy, minerally fruit. There’s a hint of grippy tannin on the finish, which is pretty dry and perhaps a little bitter (but not overly so). A versatile, stylish and potentially long-lived Riesling of great appeal. 12.5% alcohol. 92/100 (£12.50 Bibendum)

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2007 Clare Valley, Australia
A drought vintage, with much warmer temperatures than the average (heat summation 1556 degree days versus long-term average of 1332 degree days), but this is still a superb wine. Attractive lime and tangerine peel nose is fresh and balanced. The palate is hugely concentrated with a dry citrus-pith character and minerally length. There’s some real richness and power here, but the delicacy of the variety persists. A beautifully balanced wine with some real weight and potential for further development. 13.5% alcohol. 92/100 (£10.99 Oddbins)

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

A lovely Spatlese, a good film, and a close shave

Tonight I'm drinking the remains of the Reihnold Haart Piesport Domherr Riesling Spatlese 2005. It's a remarkable sweet wine of real class, with bold apricot and honey fruit, together with a fat melony texture, and a citrussy freshness. As I mentioned in my earlier post, it's weighty enough to be an Auslese. I don't know how you'd use this wine: perhaps its best suited to casual sipping. I'd never put it with a dessert, and it would be wasted paired with spicy food. It would probably age well for 30 years or so? Hard to tell.

The film in the title is one we watched yesterday afternoon. Michael Clayton is one of the best films I've seen of late. Starring George Clooney and Tilda Swinton, it's a clever legal thriller that starts at the end and then fills all the gaps in later. You need to have your wits about you to keep track of what is going on. John Grisham-ish, but a bit smarter. The writing and acting are excellent, and the pace is just about perfect, building to a very smart, stylish ending. Highly recommended.

The close shave involved RTL and a busy dual carriageway. We were at the Wheatsheaf, Virginia Water, celebrating the engagement of Jeni and Johann. We'd taken RTL for a quick walk. Coming back, before we had a chance to get her on her lead, she darted off, through the pub car park, and onto the A30, where she proceeded to run more-or-less randomly across all four lanes, causing cars to swerve and then to stop, so that a large tailback was generated as we tried to catch her. Several motorists joined in the rounding-up excercise, which was very public spirited of them. Finally, she was caught, and we were embarassed and relieved. We are certainly bad dog owners.

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Some nice wines with friends

I have a few nice wines to report on, from a dinner last night here chez Goode, where I was joined by David Bueker (visiting London from the USA) and Greg Sherwood MW (of Handford Wine). I'd never met David before, but I have communicated with him over a period of years on internet wine bulletin boards. Sounds weird, I know, meeting up with people you met on internet boards, but all the 'real life' interactions I've had with fellow wine nuts have been positive ones, and last night was no exception.

Three is a nice number for a wine dinner, and we had some really interesting wines. David brought along a Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling Heiligenstein 2006 Langenlois, Kremstal. I love Austrian Riesling, and this is a really superb example of dry Riesling at its best. It's rich and mineralic, with plenty of weight and a nice texture. Drinking very well now, but good for another five, I reckon. I'd already opened a Reinhold Haart Riesling Piesport Domherr Spatlese 2005 Mosel Saar Ruwer, which was nowhere near ready to drink. It has the richness of an Auslese with lovely spicy apricot, honey and citrus flavour. I think it's a superb wine, but not for broaching now. Another Riesling I opened by way of comparison, Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Riesling 2005 Eden Valley, was very reductive, with lots of burnt match character and a rather grippy mouthfeel. I wonder whether this was because of the tin-lined screwcap.

A fourth Riesling we tried was Dr Loosen Beerenauslese 2006, in 187 ml bottle. It was sweet and rather simple, lacking complexity (this is now in stock at Waitrose). Greg brought a couple of bottles. The first, Chateau de Donos Corbieres 1989 was still alive and had some evolved earthy complexity. The second was probably the wine of the evening. Louis Latour Chateau Corton Grancey Crand Cru 1990 was just singing. It's one of those rare wines where you feel you are drinking it at its peak. Smooth, mature and really elegant, I'd rate this at 94 if you forced me to put a score to it. I really liked the next wine, but it had its work cut out following the Burgundy. It was Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol 2000. Spicy and dense, as you'd expect from Bandol, but with fantastic purity of fruit, too. I have 11 more bottles of this, and I'm pleased about that.

Finally, Tamellini Vigna Morogne Recioto del Soave 2003 is sensational. Deep coloured, it is a thrilling viscous sweet white with complex apricot, honey, peach and vanilla notes. I guess for me this would tie for wine of the night. It's amazing stuff (another gem from Les Caves de Pyrene).

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Three Yalumba whites

Following on from the recent Pewsey Vale Riesling review, three more wines from Yalumba, whose offerings I usually like quite a bit.

Yalumba Y Series Sauvignon Blanc 2007 South Australia
Fresh, pure, bright nose with subtly green herbal fruit. The palate is crisp and tight with nettley, herby fruit and a rounded, fruity finish. Quite a stylish effort that’s modern and commercial, but not too in-yer-face. Only 11% alcohol. 86/100

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2007 South Australia
This is fresh, bright and fruity, with a crisp limey edge to the generous, slightly herb-tinged fruit. There’s a nice richness to the fruit here: it isn’t as bone dry tasting as some Aussie Rieslings, but I don’t think there’s much residual sugar – rather, the richness comes from some ripe fruit which adds a tropical edge to the limey zestiness. 87/100

Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2007 South Australia
This is crisp and fresh, but with some nutty richness, too. But I’m not really sure about it. There’s a bit of a minerally reductive note on the nose and the palate seems a little hollow, finishing with some bitterness. I guess it’s OK, but I don’t enjoy it all that much. 80/100

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chicken run, a museum Riesling and a fairtrade Shiraz

Three rather different elements are thrown into the pot to create tonight's blogpost.

First, an aside - this blog has a google page rank of 6, while the main site index page has a page rank of 5. That's a bit odd. Am I spending too much time blogging?

The first element is some telly. It's not often that I sit down in front of the TV - even though the last two nights have seen Fiona and I get through four episodes of the West Wing (we're on series 3) - but tonight I watched the second program of Hugh's chicken run on C4.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to wean the nation off intensively reared chickens. But denied access to film in the 'battery farms', he creates two scaled down chicken farms of his own in adjacent sheds, one free range and one intensive. I enjoyed the program, and I'm highly sympathetic to its aims: I believe we have a strong moral duty to treat with kindness the animals we are going to eat.

But I think this program may backfire, in part because of the honest intent shown by the program makers. Because I'd expected battery farming to look a lot worse than the vision of it presented by Hugh.

My preconceptions: I had thought the chickens were kept in small cages, and had their beaks clipped to prevent them from pecking holes in their neighbours, and that many of them died and were left to rot in situ. Instead, they are just kind of crowded and never see the sunlight, and the weak or sick are removed and sacrificed. It's not pretty, but it's better than I had anticipated.

The emotional bit in the program is when Hugh breaks down in tears because he has to finish off two sick birds in the same day. Look, I would hate to have to kill a chicken. But this is the man who raises pet pigs for the pot. I thought he was made of sterner stuff.

Still, despite the criticisms, I'll continue buying free range chickens (which are reared the same way, but in less dense situations, with bales of hay, plastic footballs, suspended CDs and access to an outdoor area). But the program makers are spinning this one out a bit with lots of shots of Hugh in his red Land Rover and various contrived reality TV moments. Hugh is very good on camera, though.

The second element is a really nice Riesling.

Pewsey Vale 'The Contours' Museum Release Riesling 2001 Eden Valley, Australia
Intense, fresh, limey nose with a pronounced spicy quality, and a bit of honey and toast. The palate is bone dry and piercing with high acidity, a lemony zing and an attractive freshness. It's quite complex and not too petrolly, with a delicious, precise 'nervous' sort of quality. Not heavy or phenolic. 91/100 (RRP - £10.99 Stockists: Berry Bros & Rudd, Selfridges & Co, Australian Wines Online, Premier Vintners, Free Run Juice, Averys of Bristol, Layton Wine Merchants, The Wineman)

The third is a delicious, affordable, quaffable Chilean Shiraz.

Marks & Spencer Fairtrade Shiraz 2007 Curico Valley, Chile
From Vinos Los Robles, this is really appealing. It's vibrant, juicy and aromatic, showing red and black fruits with a nice spiciness, and a savoury twist. It's fresh and quite pure, and lacks that off-putting rubbery greenness that some Chilean reds show. This isn't a wine to beat you around the head: it's really nicely balanced. Savoury finish. 85/100 (£5.49 Marks & Spencer)

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some post-Christmas whites that work for me, baby!

Christmas has come and gone, and it was a very good one, Chez Goode. We've spent three days, now, doing the Christmas family thing of walks, meals, games, films and modest excess. I haven't blogged for a few days - I'd have been shot had I got my laptop out on Christmas day, and rightly so. [But I notice that Hugh at gaping void managed a Christmas day blog post, and typically thoughtful and insightful it is too.]

I wanted to take this chance to blog on two rather excellent, and very different, white wines. The first is an amazing dry Riesling; the second a seriously refined Australian Chardonnay.

Kofererhof Riesling Brixner Eisacktaler 2005 Sudtirol, Italy
This mountain wine is technically Italian, but I guess it is probably more Austrian in character. It's a thrilling, intense dry Riesling showing stunning limey, floral aromatics. The palate is mineralic, intense, complex and limey with multidimensional fruit characters, a long, dry finish and bold acidity. I think it's utterly beautiful and quite profound, but with its rather extreme personality, some might find it a bit much. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene £14.25)

Tapanappa 'Etages' Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, Australia
Fermented in 70% new oak (Vosges) where it stays for 10 months, and from a cool, dry vintage. This is a concentrated, extremely elegant, ageworthy Australian Chardonnay of real poise. It shows tight, complex, wonderfully lean lemony fruit with some brilliantly integrated fresh vanilla oak. There's massive extract on the palate, which has some minerality, but it avoids being at all rich, fat, or sweet, which immediately sets it apart from most Aussie Chardonnays. This is a wine that will likely develop brilliantly over the next decade: it's starting from an intense, tight-wound platform, which makes it a slightly challenging drink now on its own, without food. I think it's quite profound, and justifies the high price tag. 94/100 (UK retail c. £30, more info from david@lindsay-may.co.uk)

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Friday, November 30, 2007

The transforming power of Austrian Riesling

Forgive the rather melodramatic title to this post. I guess I was led to it by my current enthusiasm for Austrian wine, and also - despite my silly comments - about Riesling.

That's not to say I rate Austrian Riesling higher than Gruner Veltliner. Far from it. It's just that tonight, a decision to open a Wachau Riesling to accompany a seafood risotto proved to be a very good one. This wine isn't from a terribly well known producer, but it's really nice, and is a superb food wine. It manages to carry quite a bit of weight, while remaining very fresh. And it's relatively affordable for this level of quality.

Erich Maccherndl Riesling Smaragd Steinterrassen 2005 Wachau, Austria
Quite a deep yellow colour with some green tinges, this is a full flavoured, savoury, 'trocken' style Riesling made from ripe grapes. The nose shows refined honeyed, minerally, herby/citrussy fruit. It leads to a palate that's rich and ripe, but nicely defined by fresh herb and citrus notes, together with a hint of sweetness and cutting minerally acidity. There's a lot of intensity and presence here in this dry styled wine, which is probably best served with food. 90/100 (£12.95 Great Western Wine here)

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Three Rieslings: Chile, South Africa and Germany

Riesling rocks, even though it's the grape that we in the wine trade have to like. By this, I mean it carries a moral premium and gets talked up perhaps more than it should, because there's this groundswell of opinion that Riesling is the greatest grape variety, such that to suggest otherwise makes you feel like a heretic.

Tonight I'm trying three rather different Rieslings. First, an inexpensive Mosel Riesling, and then two Rieslings from new world countries not normally associated with this variety: Chile and South Africa. Both are quite interesting, made in very different styles, and, at £7.99, relatively affordable. I wouldn't say these wines were quite yet ready to compete with the best from Germany, Austria and Alsace - they are more works in progress. But it is encouraging to see what strides are being made with this variety in the new world.

Morrison's The Best German Riesling NV, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
There's a whiff of minerally sulfur on the nose, which leads to a soft, off-dry palate with honeyed tropical fruit character bolstered by some minerally acidity. Nicely balanced, and at just 8% alcohol this is a really refreshing, quaffable wine. 82/100

Cono Sur Vision Riesling 'Quiltraman' 2007 Bio Bio Valley, Chile
This attractively packaged wine has a forward, perfumed nose of bright lime notes mixed with minerals, sweet honey and floral overtones. The palate is quite rich, with a talcum powder and lime character, together with some savoury minerality and some richness of texture, which I suspect in part comes from a bit of residual sugar, and in part from the high alcohol (14%). It finishes off with crisp acidity. This is a powerful style of Riesling, but it's balanced and quite crisp. A striking wine, and given further experience here I reckon future vintages will be even better. 89/100 (£7.99 Majestic, but £6.39 if you buy two)

Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling 2007 Elgin, South Africa
'Weisser Riesling' is a term used in South Africa to describe the true Riesling variety, and this wine comes from the cool climate Elgin region. It's an elegant, dry style of Riesling with apple and lemon fruit combining with a distinctly crisp, mineralic core to make a bone dry wine with a distinctly savoury character that is extremely food friendly. This is a moderately serious wine that is extremely versatile, and represents good value at the price. It is stylistically similar to Clare Valley Riesling, I reckon. South Africa should be making more Riesling, although I imagine it can be a tough wine to sell. 88/100 (£7.99 Jeroboams/Laytons)

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Body clocks and Riesling

You can't cheat your body clock. No matter how savvy a traveller you think you are; no matter how many time zones you've flown through in the last decade; no matter how well you can rationalize the various issues surrounding the circadian clock and its resetting - when you've flown back from New Zealand to the UK you feel really bad, as I have been feeling today. It is more than just tiredness - it's a profound sense of unease with all sorts of endogenous rhythms out of sync. Since arriving in the UK at 6 am this morning, I've felt rubbish.

Still, there's wine. Right now, I'm drinking a really satisfying, affordable Riesling - Ernst Loosen's Blue Slate 2006 Mosel Saar Ruwer. It's a mass of grapefruit and lime freshness, with plenty of that indefinable character 'minerality', and just enough honey and melon sweetness to bring the wine to a delightful poise where all the flavours work in balance. At £7.99 from Somerfield this is a really good buy, and I'd recommend this to anyone as a textbook example of top quality Riesling, if they were wondering what all the fuss surrounding this variety was about.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A dry Kabinett from Fritz Haag

Riesling Kabinett can vary in style. These days there are some that taste as rich and full as Spatlese. They should be quite fresh, and in a just off-dry style. Now this one is at the more austere, dry, minerally end of the spectrum - it's a Kabinett trocken, which means that it's fermented for longer, reaching 11.5% alcohol as opposed to the usual 8 or 9, making a more-or-less dry wine. This style isn't seen in the UK that frequently: we tend to prefer it if the high acidity that grapes grown in this part of the world possess is balanced out by some sweetness. Although this isn't my favourite ever Kabinett, I think it works quite well, and the dryness makes for a less pretty, more food friendly style.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett trocken 2005 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
The nose shows some sulfur dioxide, and is really minerally and tight. Not revealing too much at the moment. The palate is crisp and fresh with some reticent limey fruit and nice minerality. A very light, quite acidic style that has lovely purity and freshness, but not the depth you might expect from a slightly sweeter wine. Give it a few years and this may put on a bit of complexity: with the level of sulfur dioxide present, it isn't going to keel over any time soon. 88/100 (from French and Logan, part of a mixed case of 05s purchased a while back)

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Brief wines to cap a sporting weekend

Just some brief wine notes this Sunday evening, after an exciting sporting weekend. What is it with sport? I know that it's a non-serious pursuit that acts as a catharsis for us, the masses, to distract us from real life in all its misery, and that serious people shouldn't care about it. But I love sport. I read newspapers from the back page. This weekend has been fantastic: the rugby yesterday was astonishing, and then the football today was brilliant, too. Last season, I'd grown pessimistic about the premiership. It was boring. But this year it's thrilling (unless you are a Spurs fan - I enjoyed taunting one of my Spurs-loving friends today by asking him whether he'd heard the latest rumour - that Jol was going to be replaced by David Pleat...)

Anyway, back to the wine. First, a lovely white. I bought a case of Domenic Torzi's Frost Dodger Eden Valley Riesling 2005 Australia from Bordeaux Index a while back at a good price, and I'll be in no hurry to drink this up. The second bottle I've opened, this is beginning to open out: lime, honey, spice with a hint of reduction that I hope won't grow with time in bottle. It's quite serious for a dry Riesling. Second, the Lynchpin 2005 mentioned below is, on day 3, showing well still, with lovely chalky minerality and some real elegance, which makes me think it's a reasonably ageworthy wine. Finally, Waitrose have brought out a new line of own label wines, and they have a Waitrose Barossa Shiraz Reserve 2005 from St Hallett that's really nice: fruit-focused, with no American oak (just a bit of French), it shows dark, ripe black fruits countered by some plummy bitterness and an almost ginger-like warm spiciness, with the oak very much in the background. It's a solid value (to use an American term) at £7.99.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On the Riesling trail again

I've tasted a number of Rieslings recently. Here's one that really thrilled, that I'd rank up there with some of my top Riesling experiences. The slight downside is the cost. I'm guessing that most people are prepared to splash the cash for some wine styles (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne) but not others (such as the Loire and Germany).

Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese Nr 14 2005 Mosel, Germany
This is a really fantastic Riesling. Intense, thrilling palate with wonderfully complex, almost spicy, limey fruit. Really good, precise acidity offsets the rich, sweet melony fruit. Concentrated, fresh and precise, with great balance. 94/100 (£21.60 Tanners)

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

More on that serious variety, Riesling

Riesling, the grape variety with a moral premium.

I've tried two more over the last couple of days, both of which were enjoyable, without being incredible. But then they aren't expensive wines. I've rated the Kabinett marginally lower than the Spatlese, but I can think of more occasions where I'd drink the Kabinett. Both are at a heady (for the Mosel) 9.5% alcohol.

Reinhold Haart Piesporter Kabinett 2005 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Quite limey with a slightly spicy nose. Aromatic and fresh with some minerality. The palate is crisp but with some melony richness, adding a smoothness and modest plumpness to the texture, and there's a bit of complexity already. Not too sweet: you could almost use this as a dry wine at the table. Quite delicious. 88/100 (http://www.frenchandlogan.com/)

Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese 2003 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Yellow/gold colour. Quite minerally. Not terribly sweet tasting because of the acidity, but it is off-dry. Thick textured but still fresh. This is a precise sort of wine with a bit of spicy richness on the mid-palate. Quite a long finish. 89/100 (http://www.frenchandlogan.com/)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Riesling from Chile?

So we're going to be looking at some more Rieslings over the coming weeks. A journey of exploration of this rather smugly self-righteous, but at the same time quite serious grape variety.

Here's an interesting one. I'm not sure whether I like it completely, but it's good to see Chile having a serious go at doing grown-up white wine.

Cono Sur Reserva Riesling 2007 Bio Bio Valley, Chile
Chile's attempt to do Riesling Kabinett - a very fresh, almost delicate wine with some residual sugar countering the high acidity. But Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel is 7-9% alcohol, and this is 13.5%. I'm getting a zippy cocktail of grapefruit, mandarin, lime and apple. It's a bit confected on the nose, but otherwise this is remarkably fresh and transparent. The interplay between the residual sugar (I'd guess this at around 14 g/litre) and the acidity works really well, creating a dry wine with a hint of sweetness. This is the best Chilean Riesling I've had and it's good value for money, but I'd prefer it more minerally and perhaps just a touch less confected. 87/100 (£6.99 Waitrose, Tesco)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now for...a serious grape variety

Forget Merrr-loww. What about a serious grape variety? Like Riesling.

Riesling has a moral premium among white wine grape varieties. Wine geeks love Riesling. Have to.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be taking a Riesling focus, which in real terms means drinking a lot of the stuff. I began tonight with three wines, two from Australia and one from Germany, but all in a vaguely similar style.

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2006 South Australia
Bright, crisp and a bit smoky and minerally, with a nice herbal tang and an assertive, almost spicy citrussy character that's common to many Aussie Rieslings. There's also a bit of talcum powder character. A clean, precise style that is bone dry and food friendly. 87/100 (£6.50 Winedirect.co.uk, Auswinesonline.co.uk)

Mesh Riesling 2006 Eden Valley, Australia
A collaboration between Jeffrey Grosset and Robert Hill Smith (www.meshwine.com). Alive, limey, perfumed nose with a lovely crisp, bone dry, mineralic palate that verges on the austere with its high acidity, but it isn't heavy or phenolic. Distinctly savoury, this closes up a bit on the finish which is very tight. It would be interesting to see what this wine - sealed with a tin-lined screwcap - would look like under a closure that allows just a little more oxygen transmission. 90/100 (c. £14 Wine Society, Winedirect.co.uk, Handford)

Darting Durkheimer Michelsburg Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2005 Pfalz, Germany
Precise, crisp, lemony nose with a minerally, spicy edge. The palate is crisp and dry with a lovely citrussy character, together with a hint of honeyed warmth. Overall, this is crisp and dry, and quite simular to the Australian style, albeit with a bit more carbon dioxide spritz. A nice wine, and good value. 88/100 (£6.99 Marks & Spencer)

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wine with cheese, again

Apparently, the best way to gain weight is to eat at night, just before bed. I remember reading this advice in an interview with Vin Diesel, normally a tough, shaven-headed, six-pack touting hard guy who had to put on weight (and hair) for the excellent Find me guilty. He snacked on ice cream, late at night, and his six pack became a two-tyre.

Now as a person who likes to eat and drink, but doesn't want to become a fat boy, I'm on a continual diet (of sorts). I don't eat as much as I want, most of the time. It's tough, though, because I do love food.

Indeed, one of the things I've noticed about fat people - and I'm not being judgemental here, because I truly believe that beauty resides within, and you should feel good about yourself whether or not you conform to society's shallow obsession with appearance - is that they do enjoy their food. Forget about all this talk concerning metabolic rates and leptin gene status: if you have a friend with a big belly, just watch how much they eat. It's an eye opener.

I digress. Anyway, I have a weakness. I like to snack and drink late at night as I work. I've never had a six-pack, and this is probably why.

Tonight, I'm nibbling on Comte and bread, along with two rather different wines, both of which work quite well with the cheese. The first is the remainder of the Karlsmuhle Riesling Kabinett 2005 I reported on here a few days ago. It's amazing how well these young Rieslings keep in the fridge. Off-dry Rieslings seem to be a good match for quite a broad range of cheeses.

The second is a brilliant young Alentejo (Portugal) red - the 2006 Monte da Peceguina from Malhadinha Nova. It's amazingly vibrant, with ripe, pure summer fruits complemented really well by some grippy tannins and good acidity. I think it's this sweetly fruited, vibrant, juicy character that makes this a red wine that works with slightly harder (but not hard) cheeses like Comte. It's a wine that bridges the new and old worlds.

Some more thoughts on wine and cheese. Wines that rely on tannins for structure work less well with cheese than wines that rely on acidity. This is why whites generally work better with cheese than reds. Unusually for reds, the Peceguina relies more on acidity for structure than tannin; therefore, it works quite well with cheese. Tannins and cheese are a bad match, generally.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Riesling Kabinett: two compared

Two Rieslings compared. The suprise reappearance of the English summer led me to crack open two Riesling Kabinetts. Kabinett really appeals to me: it's usually a fresh, bright style of Riesling that drinks well young and combines freshness with a bit of sweetness to good effect. But it's also a wine style in danger of succumbing to global warming, with grapes achieving higher ripeness levels in the Mosel each year.

JJ Christoffel Erdener Trepphcen Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Pale coloured. Fresh with some carbon dioxide spritz. Wonderfully delicate and precise with lime, honey and lemon notes. The palate has a rich yet light texture with some minerality. Lovely freshness and a bit of complexity. I like this a lot. 90/100

Karlsmuhle Kaesler Nies'chen Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Quite deep coloured. Powerful limey, herby nose with some appley sweetness. The palate is quite full, just off-dry, with a distinctive herby edge. Refreshing acidity. A food wine. 87/100

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